“The Amir Lopatin Fellowship” – Request for Proposals

The Amir Lopatin Fellowship at Stanford University issued its first Request for Proposals on March 25, 2009. The text of the announcement is below.

“The Amir Lopatin Fellowship”

Announcing: Request for Proposals (RFP)

Date of announcement: March 25, 2009

Deadline: May 1, 2009

Decision date for award: May 22, 2009

The Stanford University School of Education (SUSE) has recently established an endowment fund thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of Amir Lopatin, former Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) doctoral student. Five years ago on March 25th, Amir sadly lost his life in an unfortunate automobile accident during Spring Break. His family and over 300 families and friends worked intensively to create a memorial fund in his name to support research in learning sciences and technologies design, which Amir strongly felt held much promise for education. Proceeds from this endowment fund will provide support to a research project of exceptional merit, selected each year from among proposals submitted by SUSE doctoral students in the Learning Sciences and Technology Design (LSTD) program, in line with the criteria described below. In 2009, the first year of this Fellowship, the selected proposal will be awarded up to $1,200, to cover research-related expenses (with future amounts dependent on the endowment payout in a given year). The Fellowship will be advertised on a similar calendar each year.

The eligibility requirements described in the endowment award, and the proposal specifications determined by LSTD faculty administering the program are as follows:

• The purpose of the Fund shall be to provide funding for LSTD PhD students to support an exceptional project involving technology and education.
• “Special consideration will be given to projects involving community-level fieldwork which use technology and project based learning to make education more engaging for primary and secondary school age students and otherwise enhance children’s educational experience.”
• A brief description of the research proposal will be provided in no more than five single space pages (12 pt font). A project description should include: (1) statement of your research problem; (2) your approach to investigating the problem (research design, sample, procedures); (3) timeline with key activities for your research activity, and (4) budget and budget explanation. Select references should be included, and will not count toward the five-page limit. A current resume should also be included with the application.
• A brief final report from the Lopatin Fellow’s research activities will be due no later than March 25th of the year following their award, and will be posted on a website associated with the Fellowship.

The application due date is Friday, May 1st, by noon. The application should be submitted as a single PDF file, including the project description, budget and resume. Send a copy of your application via attachment, with Subject header “Lopatin Award Application” to Roy Pea ([email protected]). Put your last name into the file name of your document, using the following file naming convention when you email your award application: LastnameLopatinAward.doc

After award applications are received, the Lopatin Award Committee (comprised of a group of LSTD program faculty) will review proposals and make decisions about the award for announcement on May 22, 2009. The decision will be based on scientific merit, and not financial need, consistent with the terms of the endowment award. Students in the program will only be able to win the Lopatin Award once during their doctoral training. For the project budget, funds can be proposed for a broad range of purposes, such as research media (e. g., audio or videotapes, hard-disks or charges for media storage), transcription costs, paying data coders, participant costs, photocopying, mailing, software, living expenses at research site if maintaining residence there, travel expenses to/from research site. With the size of the awards currently anticipated, the Lopatin Fellowship funds will not be used for tuition payments to Stanford, to purchase capital equipment, or for self-payment for transcription or other research activities.

For more background on Amir Lopatin, please see the family’s memorial site at http://www.amirlopatin.com/

From your sister on the birth of Amira

Amir – David and I had a daughter – born on Feb 5, 2009 – 5 days before your birthday. We named her after you – Amira Jeanne. She is beautiful and mischievous – just like you! We all miss you so much. I can’t wait till Amira is old enough to understand how amazing her namesake was. Maybe she will find this posting.
Love, Shosh

Amir’s Stanford Bio

About Me:
I am currently a first-year PhD student studying under Roy Pea in the “Learning Sciences and Technology Design ” program of the Stanford University School of Education. Prior to Stanford, I studied at Brown University from where I graduated in May 1999 with an ScB in computer science. My goal here at Stanford is to apply my passion for technology within the field I think poses the most interesting and meaningful challenges: education. It is my animating faith that technology holds the key to making education accessible and effective for everyone and that education, in turn, holds the key to just about everything else that is worthwhile. My specific research interests are still inchoate but here is a short list of topics I would like to investigate before my time here is up.
Before coming to Stanford, I worked as a software engineer at a start-up company called Visible World . There, I specialized in user interface and data-visualization work. My biggest project was a full-featured MPEG2 Transport Stream Analyzer . I also wrote a nifty app we called the Command GUI which was used to monitor the media preparation process for Visible World’s patented intellispot technology. In NYC, my main avocation outside of work was Ultimate Frisbee . I even started NYC’s first public ultimate league, NYCPUL. I am not sure if the league will continue now that I am gone because, in truth, I did almost all of the work and the league was very hard to run within the space constraints of Manhattan.
Before NYC, I lived in SLC Utah for one year. There, I worked for a company called Evans and Sutherland . Evans and Sutherland is the oldest company working in the field of high-end graphics and simulation systems. I did some work there on head-tracking in tank simulators so that the field of view would change in the windows of the tanks as people moved their heads around inside the simulator. The job was pretty cool but Utah was not a good match for me (although I did love the skiing and the mountain biking).
A lot happened to me before that, but I don’t want to waste your bandwidth with the prehistoric details.

Research interests:

• Programming to learn: How can programming literacy most effectively be leveraged to facilitate instruction in fields outside of computer-science. People that can program have a language for describing processes that other people lack. This is similar to the way that people who understand calculus have a language for describing change and therefore have an easier time describing and comprehending concepts in physics and math. If curricula designers could take this literacy for granted could they design course materials that are more effective than conventional ones?
o Mindstorms.
o Allan Kay
o Andy Disessa

• Gaming to learn: Are video games an under-exploited educational resource or just a distraction?
o Prensky :

• Issues in educational motivation: What are the motivational qualities of competition? Can computers be used to isolate the beneficial qualities of competition while muting the pernicious ones? In my experience, competition has always been highly motivating. The downside of competition is that if you are on the losing side well Holden Caufield said too well: “Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right; I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.” The thing about computers is that they can adjust their difficulty levels so that nobody feels like they are losing allowing instructors to reintroduce competition without anyone feeling bad.
• Issues in assessment: Can real-time monitoring of student learning activities obviate the need for post-facto assessment?

Stanford Educator Fall 2004

You can read the article about Amir from the Stanford Educator published in Fall 2004 by visiting this site: http://ed.stanford.edu/suse/news-bureau/educator/fall2004/pages/StudentNews.html

hello from your sis

Hello Amiri – I miss you so much. You missed my wedding! I got married on Jan. 6, 2008 to David W. I know you were worried about me never getting married – and you would have really liked David – he is super smart and earnest like you. It was your birthday this week – boy do I miss you – I cant believe you would have been 32 You would probably be finishing your phd and launching some amazing software to revolutionize education. Amir I wake up everyday hoping its not true. You visit in my dreams and you are still the same earnest kid with messed up hair and hands up to his face when he laughs. I get so excited during those dreams that I can spend time with you. I miss you everyday. I am very resistant to moving on in my life without you in it. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. Your sis Shoshi


Below are excerpts from a letter Amir kept in a file folder labelled “funny stuff.” The letter is dated April 26, 1993 and was written by a member of the Ramaz administration exasperated by Amir’s failure to conform with the Ramaz dress code. I love that Amir kept this letter, and I have to admit I am proud of my little brother for keeping the combine on its toes.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lopatin

It has been a longstanding tradition at Ramaz that students come to school on Yom Haatzmaut dressed in bigdei chag, the kind of clothes that they would wear on a yom tov . . . at the very least, the vast majority of male students come dressed in white shirts and ties.

Unfortunately, Amir came to school today dressed in blue jeans and a flannel shirt and tie. The dress code clearly states that dress shirts and required and any color of jeans is forbidden any day of the year, let alone on a day such as this. More important was the attitude he presented when asked about his attire. His responses ranged from alleged ignorance about dress code requirements …. to his insistence that he believes it is more important how he behaves than how he dresses. This is not the first time I have had discussions with Amir about the dress code or other issues. His attitude is frequently argumentative and unbending. I do not begrudge him his philosophical views; yet I must insist that the school’s rules be enforced and that the boundaries of appropriate behavior are not crossed.

I write you now to inform you of today’s incident and the sense of frustration that comes with it….

I. James Quillen Fellowship

Amir was supported in his graduate studies at Stanford by the James and Viola Quillen Fellowship. James Quillen served as Dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education from 1952-1966, and is known for raising the school from a regional teacher and administrator training program to the preeminent research institution that it is today. I remember Amir working diligently on this thank you letter, which is dated the month he died. Amir was incredibly grateful for the financial assistance he received, which went a long way in helping him to fulfill his goals. This is why the Amir Lopatin Memorial Fund will seek to offer similar assistance in the future.

March 2004

Dear Ms. Gangloff,

I am a recipient of the I. James Quillen fellowship at Stanford University. I want to let you know how grateful I am for your family’s generosity and the opportunity it has given me to study at this great institution. I hope to contribute to the legacy of scholarship Dean Quillen left imprinted here.

My studies so far have been focused on the intersection between education and technology. For example, I am currently researching how computers may be used to improve reading comprehension within electronic documents. I am also very interested in the threats and possibilities that interactive video games present to the field of education.

Before coming here, I received my bachelors degree in computer science from Brown University. I then went to work as a software engineer for four years where I specialized in user-interface design, graphics, and data visualization technologies. It is my goal to use the skills I gained as a professional programmer and apply them to the field that I feel poses the most interesting, important and rewarding challenges: education.

I realize how privileged I am to be here and I want to reiterate my gratitude to your family both for Dean Quillen’s role in making the School of Education the great place it is, as well as for the generosity that makes it possible for me to study here.


Amir Lopatin

Rabbi Feldman’s Dvar Torah on April 12, 2005

From: Jonathan Novich
Subject: An Abbreviated Memorial in Palo Alto
To: “Uri”, “Shoshana Lopatin”
Cc: “Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman”, “Rabbi Dov Greenberg”
Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2005, 11:11 AM

Dear Shoshana, Uri, and Sara-

I’m certain Amir would have been pleased had we been able to link directly last night for his memorial service. Without the webcast, we felt it would be best to gather when we could remember Amir more appropriately – with a screening of the video you will be uploading soon.

That said, we also wanted to mark the yahrzeit here as well – so Rabbi Feldman spoke about Amir between Mincha and Maariv (attached as an mp3).

Rabbi Dov Greenberg of Chabad at Stanford also offered his reflections on the yahrzeit – they are attached as well (“We all miss him”).

We’re planning to schedule a gathering later this week once the recording of the event in NJ is available.

As for me, a year later, I reflect on the conversations I would have shared with Amir this past year, the insight I am sure he would have brought me, the laughter I am certain we would have enjoyed, and the inspiration I know I would have drawn from the free-spirited, warm-hearted, open-minded, and always-loving Amir.



Amir’s Yahrzeit – Speech by Shoshana Lopatin at the cemetery

Amiri – I am suppose to speak about you, but what I want to do is speak to you. I want to tell you how proud of you we are. I want to tell you how many people you have touched. I want to tell you that I think of you every day. I want to tell you that we’ve all been recycling more, hiking more, and we all try to bike, carpool and use public transportation more. Did you know that mom stopped licking the drips from the salad dressing bottle and I’ve stopped laughing at my own jokes? We even all played ultimate the other day. (Truth is I didn’t actually play but I did those practice throws running around in circles like you taught me — you who played with me even though I sucked and made certain we tossed a frisbee in every green space in Munich we could find, you who dragged me to play in Englewood on Shabbos when I was a lump, you who tossed with me in Cambridge until we hit the car, you who taught me to throw over my head in Central Park.)

Amiri – We want you to know it’s been a terrible year, and as time passes its getting harder because you seem further and further away.

Amiri – we want to tell you that we miss you. We miss your crooked mischievous smile. We miss the way you bring your hands up by your chest when you giggle. We miss your Simpson inspired high-pitched laugh. We miss your interesting insights into everything. We miss your provocative questions. We miss reading your chicken scratch handwriting. We miss joining you in passionate discourse. We miss watching you do core stabilization exercises. We miss learning about your newfound ways to improve efficiency and increase knowledge – like your newfound habit of listening to books on tape while you jog or the note-taking shareware software you developed before your first semester at Stanford even started. We miss seeing you nap on the blue couch. We miss watching you play computer games. We also miss watching you erase the games from your computer so you wouldn’t be addicted but then going to Mikey’s to play anyway.

Amiri – we miss your ideas. We miss talking to you. We miss being loved by you. We miss you making us laugh.

Amiri – personally I need to tell you that I miss being your sister. I miss you sitting on my bed and pelting me with stuffed animals.

Amiri – I miss listening to your problems and giving you advice. I miss telling you my problems and getting your advice. I miss sharing insights about Mom, Dad, Uri. I miss you. We miss you.

Amiri – I want you to know that its true what they say – that when great people die – a little bit of each of us dies with them. Amiri – we are so much less without you. I miss you. I love you.